The next President is going to have enormous challenges. And not just the typical ones that make being US President such a big, all-consuming job. I mean when done right, of course. The Bush years have shown that a monkey can sit in the chair and the US will muddle through. But the problems Bush created, the problems the Republicans ignored, and a heap of new challenges will confront the next President.
The next President will have to fix what the Republicans have screwed up. Let’s only consider first the federal budget. The budget is $250 billion out of balance. And the $4 trillion in debt added over the Bush years have debt payments sucking up an even larger share of the federal budget. The Iraq occupation is has an ongoing cost in lives and $150 billion a year (plus a similar amount in deferred costs).
The US army is pinned down in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Growing US medical costs need to be dealt with, and the US is out of simple fixes, and running out of time to ignore the problem. We need to change how the US health care system is run.
The economy is heading into a recession.
The world is at peak oil. Oil will get more expensive every year. Likely oil prices will rise slowly for a next 2-3 years as world production stays constant while demand rises. Then it gets worse as world production starts to fall 5% a year and oil gets *really* expensive and/or shortages develop. Natural gas is running short as well.
Global warming needs to be addressed with carbon cuts. This will require restructuring the US energy economy, a huge undertaking. Funnily, lucky chance, peak oil will help reduce oil usage, but the US will need to start replacing coal power plants with something more expensive.
That’s a huge set of problems, each presenting a big political challenge, but many of them combined technological/natural disaster/political problems that each individually would be a once in a generation problem.
I have listed these problems not to depress people, but to make a point that the next Presidency will not be business as usual, four years similar to the last decade or two. The next President needs to start making the challenge clear to start building political support for the required effort. And yet none of the Dem candidates have done this.
They need to do this, start making the size and nature of the problems clear to the US people. Talking about them, providing people with the background and showing them where things are heading. Of course detailed proposals can’t be offered yet, but the candidates can sketch out the problems and what give people a notion of how the US can deal with them.
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